Google pledges changes to research oversight after internal revolt

Jeffrey Dastin, Paresh Dave:

Reuters reported in December that Google had introduced a “sensitive topics” review for studies involving dozens of issues, such as China or bias in its services. Internal reviewers had demanded that at least three papers on AI be modified to refrain from casting Google technology in a negative light, Reuters reported.

Jeff Dean, Google’s senior vice president overseeing the division, said Friday that the “sensitive topics” review “is and was confusing” and that he had tasked a senior research director, Zoubin Ghahramani, with clarifying the rules, according to the recording.

Ghahramani, a University of Cambridge professor who joined Google in September from Uber Technologies Inc, said during the town hall, “We need to be comfortable with that discomfort” of self-critical research.

Google declined to comment on the Friday meeting.

Many taxpayer supported K-12 school districts use Google services, including Madison.